Saturday, December 14, 2013
Janet Stewart (Anabel Shaw) excitedly travels to a hotel in San Francisco to reunite after two years with her husband Paul (Frank Latimore), a recently released POW who was previously reported killed. Janet grows anxious when Paul does not arrive as scheduled, suffering a horrible nightmare, and the next morning, when Paul does show up, she's catatonic. Dr. Richard Cross (Vincent Price), a psychiatrist, determines she's in shock and takes her to his country sanitarium for treatment, claiming it's the stress of her husband's return. But Cross knows the truth: she witnessed him murder his wife the night before. When he fails to bury the truth through treatment, Cross and his lover, nurse Elaine Jordan (Lynn Bari), resolve to break Janet's mind and convince everyone else she's delusional.
In another shift of expectations, Cross also feels guilt for what he puts Janet through. Other villains wouldn't give it a moment's thought, but Cross is torn between committing more crimes to save himself and not allowing himself to become even more tainted than he already is.. The same cannot be said for Elaine. Elaine serves as the Lady Macbeth of Shock, goading Cross and telling him what they have to do get away with it all. In one scene by the fireplace, she subtly plays on his sense of manhood, reminding him what he was like on the night they first were together in a romantic way.
As a melodrama, Shock is quite effective. It's very rare to see a story built around the guilt, paranoia, and shame of it's villain, and in a way that almost makes him sympathetic (though that might be because of Price's performance, which is quite good). The thriller elements, as a result, are downplayed to a degree, and the movie's not as suspenseful or as intense as it could have been (the psychiatric elements are probably ludicrously out-of-date as well). However, if you're a Price fan, you'll want to check this out.